Troy looks to get north end zone expansion project off the ground

Published 11:36 pm Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The north endzone of the Troy University Veterans Memorial Stadium is seen in Troy, Ala., Wednesday, May 30, 2012. (Messenger Staff Photo/Thomas Graning)

Troy University’s plans of expanding Veterans Memorial Stadium are still in the fund raising stages according to Athletic Director Steve Dennis.

“We are making strides towards meeting our goal,” Dennis said. “I’m pleased with the progress we’ve made. We have a lot of projects on the table and are looking to our Trojan supporters to help get us there.”

The university announced in February that it had raised over $167 million towards its $200 million capital campaign goal. The campaign, called Building Beyond Boundaries, was started in 2008 as a means to help Troy invest in infrastructure and programs on several university campuses.

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Preparations to construct a new facility in the north end zone are still in their infancy but head football coach Larry Blakeney is lending a helping hand in order to get the project on its feet.

“Now is the time to do something like this,” Blakeney said. “We have got to make an investment in football. We are behind in the Sun Belt with that kind of facility and it’s a point we need to deal with.”

One of the major upgrades for the football program would be the new locker rooms and coach’s offices that would accompany the new facility. Other amenities could include common areas and premium seating.

The Trojan football team’s dressing room is currently located on the bottom level of the Tine Davis Field House, which was built in the early 1970s when the team was making the move from NAIA to Division II.

Veterans Memorial Stadium underwent an $18 million facelift in 2003, which took more than a year to complete. Included in the renovation were the six-story stadium tower, stadium club seating, and AstroPlay artificial turf. The strength and conditioning and sport medicine facilities located in the tower were completed in 2004.

“The tower saved us for a while,” Blakeney said. “We need to paint a picture for kids coming in here as to what we have to present to them and we are falling behind on that.”

Other Sun Belt Conference schools have invested large quantities of money in their football programs recently.

Florida Atlantic opened its new $70 million on-campus football stadium in October of 2011. Arkansas State built a new complex for its coaches and players in 2002 and resurfaced the field with FieldTurf in 2006.

Louisiana-Lafayette constructed the Leon Moncia Indoor Practice Facility in 2007, which features a full-size football field with endzones and field goals.

Blakeney says that while the football program has access to quality facilities, the program itself has grown tremendously in recent years.

“The program in brimming over,” he said. “If we are going to do something, we need to do it right and show that we are serious about being Division I.”

While the amount needed to begin construction has not been disclosed, Blakeney and Dennis said all coaches have been asked to help in the fund raising process.

One project that will be addressed in the near future is that of replacing the playing surface of Veterans Memorial Stadium.

Dennis said the bid process will likely begin within the next week and once completed a timetable will be set to finish the project before football practice resumes in early August. It is speculated that the process of replacing the turf will take three weeks.

To donate to the capital campaign or to become a Trojan Warrior, call 334-670-3482.